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Bel Air man slashes would-be burglar Wednesday with knife, will not be charged, sheriff’s office says

A Bel Air man stopped a would-be burglar from entering his home after he refused to give him money Wednesday night, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.


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Deputies responded to the 1200 block of Athens Court in Bel Air around 11:50 p.m. for a report of an attempted burglary. As they drove there, deputies were told the person was still trying to force his way into the house.

When they got there, deputies saw 38-year-old Mark Brandenberg of Bel Air still trying to gain entry to the home, police said.

Brandenburg was bleeding from apparent knife wounds to his upper body and taken to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. He was later transferred to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment. He is now in stable condition, police said.

The initial investigation determined that Brandenberg approached Stephen Brown, a 26-year-old who lived nearby, and demanded money from him, according to police. Brown was outside his home at the time and refused, so Brandenberg allegedly tried to follow him into his house.

Brown closed and locked his door, and Brandenberg shattered a glass pane on it and tried to climb through. Brown warned Brandenberg he had a kitchen knife multiple times, but it did not deter Brandenberg, according to police.

Brandenberg continued to try to climb in when Brown slashed him with the knife, police said. Neighbors, too, came to help Brown stop the alleged forced-entry, with one trying to pull Brandenberg out of the broken door window he was attempting to get through. Brown was not hurt in the encounter.

Brandenberg is being charged in connection to the incident based on the investigation, police said. Brown, the homeowner, is not expected to face charges, according to police.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cristie Hopkins said that the final charging determination will be made by the state’s attorney, but the deputies did not charge Brown because he was acting in self-defense.

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Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler commended the neighbors for helping Brown and reassured county residents that sheriff’s deputies are responding to calls — even in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered schools, businesses and some government buildings.

“[E]ven during this time, when our State is faced with a global pandemic, residents of Harford County didn’t hesitate to come to the aid of their neighbor. With all the bad, we have also seen so much good come from this global tragedy," Gahler said in a prepared statement. “This is just another example of neighbor helping neighbor.”

The investigation is active and ongoing, the release states. The sheriff’s office encourages anyone with information about the incident to call Detective Tammy Burns at 410-836-5043.

Online court records did not list Brandenberg’s charges as of 11:30 a.m., nor do they list an attorney representing him.

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